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Highway to Health

March 2000


A old becomes new:

In the past, when medicine was primitive, people rightly feared the doctor (George Washington died soon after the doctors bled him). The doctor who suggested that physicians wash their hands between deliveries was barred from practicing medicine.

During the past 50 years, people saw great progress in medicine and began to wonder if we might soon cure all disease. People began to turn all of their care over to the physician: If I get diabetes, I’ll just take insulin. If I get angina, I’ll just get bypass surgery. Live it up and the doctor and the researchers can take away the disease. Being responsible was smoking filtered cigarettes, going for a yearly check up, and taking all the medicine your doctor prescribed in the way he or she prescribed it.

The old has become new. Now, many are realizing that although the discoveries of the past 100 years have been life saving, the physician does a less-than-ideal job of correcting health-damaging choices made by the patient. Even if the patient takes the insulin and the anti-hypertensive exactly as prescribed, 3 miles of walking 3 times a week does more to protect against heart attack than does the medicine. Walking has been proven to treat depression better than medication and better than psychotherapy. But, don’t throw out the medicines…yet.

Instead of a yearly exam, consider a yearly tune-up that includes an exam and an exercise/diet evaluation, and perhaps a week in a controlled environment that fosters spiritual and physical renewal. Instead of taking your medicines perfectly, consider what lifestyle changes might be made to require less medication. But, DO NOT make changes of your medication on your own. This could be very dangerous. Discuss these strategies with your physician soon. Just be careful about letting your insurance carrier determine what you need by what they will cover...they don't buy running shoes but they'll do more for your health than most medicines. Many people spend several hundred dollars a year maintaining their car but don't want to pay more for their own body's maintenance than whatever the insurance covers.

The above are just my ideas about how things are changing. A famous inventor once said that the physician of the future will be more of an educator than anything else. I'm not sure we're there yet, but I do think that the physician of the future must deliver a personalized message about how to make changes in lifestyle in the easiest way for the greatest improvement in health.

As I've mentioned here earlier, I left the emergency room one month ago to open a practice of medicine that attempts to put into practice some of the ideas we have discussed. We will start seeing patients April the 6th. If you would like a brochure about the practice and what services are offered, please drop me an e-mail or call the runels Center at 334-625-2612 ( or 800-615-1270).

Please welcome Kari Mecham to the runels Center. Kari worked at the Pritikan Center in Long Beach, California, was a world-class sprinter in college, and managed Pro-Health (the rehab center for the Mobile Infirmary Medical Center) for the past several years supervising bounce-back programs, stroke rehab, and water fitness. She now works full time at the runels Center as an exercise physiologist and nutritional counselor and health educator.

You can schedule a free orientation to her nutritional services (especially beneficial to those who are interested in managing their hypertension or diabetes with less medication) by calling her at 334-625-2612. When there is a need for decreasing medications, I would work in consultation with your primary doctor (you can keep your family doctor) or I will work with you as your primary internist.

(This letter is sent only to friends and patients who have requested it. If you would like to be removed from the list, please excuse the intrusion and hit reply and type remove. If you found this letter useful, please feel free to forward or to copy and distribute freely.)



Charles runels Jr., MD

Runels Center for Lifelong Health


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